GRANGER at Halloween for 10/26/16: THE TEAR IN THE WRAPPER

Truth in advertising“, it read.

Image result for coffee and Autumn

Granger was fed up with the glut of political flyers in his mailbox and inboxes.  Tossing on his desk the garishly colored hit piece in yoga pants by a former state senator, he swung around and gazed unfocused out the window at a grayish, cotton-streaked sky with bruise-blue accents.  Chuffing through his nose, he thought, “Even the sky’s puzzled by it all.”

Bemused, he reached for his “Coffee Made Me Do It” mug.  Just before he got it to his mouth, he noticed the “fun-size” Butterfinger laying on his desk; it had been hidden by the big black mug.  Glancing over at the glass bowl full of assorted Halloween-sized candy, he saw many other bars identical to the one huddled behind his coffee.  You won’t get away from me-e-e . . .

Image result for fun-size Butterfinger

Amused at the desire-borne moisture in his mouth, he glommed onto the familiar yellow-orange-gold wrapper.  Granger actually licked his lips as he tore the wrapper lengthwise.

Opening the wrapper, he grimaced in disgust.  Really?  Instead of the neat, compact one-by-two-inch chocolate-covered nougat he expected to find, a sharded mess of odd-shaped pieces had fallen onto his black crew-neck tee and khaki pants.

Irritated, he started to grouse about something more to clean up when he suddenly got quiet.

I know people like that, he reasoned.  Brightly packaged, looking like others in The Bowl, like they’ve got it all together–until the wrapper comes off.  Unwrapped, they’re a ragged, jagged collection of misshapen pieces just waiting to fall all over the place.

Yeah, I know people like that.  I’ve been like that.

Image result for people wearing I'm fine masks

As these thoughts jostled each other in his mind, he glanced again at the phrase off the discarded voting flyer:  “Truth In Advertising”.

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Granger’s eyes blurred and his voice thickened as he spoke aloud, a habit of those who spend most of their time alone.  “Oh, yeah.  Many’s the time that, had my wrapper torn, all my hidden insecurities, my personal misgivings, self-doubt, all those questions about myself would be laying all over in a huge, untidy mess just like–here he made a rueful face as he surveyed the slightly-sticky, sweet mess he’d dumped on his clothes– “my ill-fated little candy bar buddy, may it rest in pieces.”

Image result for Community Golden Caramel coffee

Later, wearing a comfortable black-and-red shirt with the sleeves rolled half up and a soft pair of old jeans, he stood with mug in left hand and coffee carafe in right, thinking about the recent experience.  Shaking his head as if to wake up, Granger poured a fresh, fragrant cup of Community Golden Caramel, returned to his desk chair and sat pondering.

Is it wrong to present a public appearance that’s attractive, appropriate to one’s task?  Does that not reflect good self-image and -respect?

Is it deceptive to present an outward persona that’s positive and uplifting, even when one’s interior landscape more resembles a barren wasteland?  As a Christ-follower, isn’t being winsome and attractive kind of necessary?

Sipping thoughtfully at the semi-sweet, smooth coffee, he answered his own question.

Deception is willful.  Wearing a mask is intended to hide, to frustrate and conceal.  If those are the reasons for the wrapper, then the advertising is dishonest and disingenuous.

Image result for Christ Like spirit despite internal pain

Image result for Christ Like spirit despite internal pain

If one’s desire is to be a consistent positive, encouraging and Christlike witness to one’s own world, then God can be trusted to know how to tenderly deal with the internal brokenness.  To fit the nonfitting.  To create beauty and symmetry just as perfectly as He did at The Original Event.

Rising to refill his mug, Granger thoughtfully nabbed another of the sweet, chocolaty morsels from the Halloween bowl.  Grinning as he softly checked that this one was whole, he admitted to himself, I don’t have this here “for the kids” since none ever come up here.  I have this here for me.  And I’m lovin’ it!

Butterfinger?

© D. Dean Boone, October 2016

 

Categories: Encouragement, Inspirational, Tell-A-Story-Make-A-Point | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2nd Cup for 2/1/19: WHEN EGO HITS THE WALL

What others see as losing is sometimes the best possible win.

The story went like this . . .

Last year I entered a marathon.  Did it right.  Shocking white top, Deep Purple Haze Adidas silk blend compression shorts, and Adidas UltraBoost  STs in Clear Mint /Aqua.   

The race started.  If you know anything about my health history,  immediately I had last place totally locked in.  Dead last of the runners. It was embarrassing.

The guy who was in front of me, second to last, was making fun of me. He said, “Hey buddy, how does it feel to be last?”

I replied: “You really want to know?”  His eyes sneered and his eyebrows shot upward as he vigorously nodded.

Then I dropped out of the race.

There are plenty of ways to win.  In this way, I won by wisely stopping an activity in which my ego had foolishly involved me.  I also won by helping someone I’d never met learn there are times to stifle.

Enjoy your coffee.

© D. Dean Boone, February 2019

 

 

 

 

Categories: Common Sense, Humor - Lighten Up, Tell-A-Story-Make-A-Point | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

2nd Cup for 1/19/19: A Mute For Ashley’s Mouth

“So-o-o, what did you guys do on your honeymoon?”

The tone and delivery made it clear:  wrinkles and liver spots have nothing in common with love.

The inquisitor was a twenty-something wielding more questions than sense, a grand-niece hailing from one side or the other of their blended families.  She stood in the defiant, lock-kneed stance of goofs everywhere.  Her arms were crossed as if her interrogation was not only reasonable but an answer was her right; to ignore it would be an unforgivable affront.

She presented as a sort-of-adult version of the irritating, pudgy child she must have been.  Desperately wanting to be taken seriously, she was amusing in her emo splendor, with the exception of the shocking green mohawk seeming to sprout from her otherwise-sooty hair like a genetically-modified Martian Bird of Paradise plant.  The oversized Saints jersey with Brees on the back did not seem to help.

“Well?”

The question and follow-up prompt had been double-dipped in arrogance, as if only the young could experience marital enchantment and anyone 50 and above should close their shutters so as to not embarrass the rest of Earth.

Herb and Charlace, well into retirement years, had been relaxing quietly in the shade beside the trickling waterfall. Their chaise-lounges were close together, with only a small table between them holding the coffee they’d both been enjoying, and a tablet softly playing Pandora’s Dinner Jazz in the background.

Both had full heads of silvery-platinum hair, and looked and acted fit. They’d swum long enough to cool down and had been appreciating the waning pumpkiny sun as it dried them off.

Herb stood, stepped into his khaki cargo shorts, tucking his now-dry purple Adidas swim trunks in, and zipped his thin lime-green hoodie halfway up. Then he silently sat back down, playing dumb, nose buried once again in his book. Charlace wasn’t so kind. She had no idea why they’d attracted the girl’s attention just then.  But she did know the young busybody peppering them with questions would not shut up until she’d gotten some kind of rise out of the older woman. Charlace didn’t feel she and her recently-new husband needed to respond, but it seemed clear her nosey, condescending great-niece was not hint-oriented.

Waiting an appropriate tick or two, Charlace eyed the inquisitor as one might while aiming at a fly with a yellow plastic swatter. She might’ve even wedged a tock in.

“We did crossword puzzles and watched seagulls.  I knitted, and he took naps.”  The fine edge of her sarcasm sung and keened like running a moistened finger around water-filled glasses.  Ashley bent one knee in exasperation, locking it again and making that “UH-uhh!” huffing noise that blesses adults’ hearts everywhere.

Charlace sat, quietly observing the girl.  Where do any of these kids learn their social skills?  She acts 14, not 24.  And does she have any idea how silly and needy she looks?  Sighing, she said, “Ashley, it’s none of your business.  Your attitude reeks, and you’re too old to be acting like you are.  We don’t owe you anything you can run and immediately tell your gossipy friends.  But because someday you may grow up enough to seek some adult counsel, I’ll answer you.”

The younger woman nodded, and her eyes took on the mein of a puppy anticipating a Milk Bone.

“We ordered a lot of cabin service coffee and took turns sharing meaningful Scripture passages from our respective morning quiet time, as well as from the books we brought with us to sit on our private veranda and read.” She held her patented wry, glinting eye contact just long enough to be rewarded by the slight rise of pinkishness in Ashley’s cheeks, then resumed reading.  At least she retains enough sense to register embar—

“Oh, come on—you tryna convince me that’s ‘all’ you did?”

Taking a slow, deep breath, Charlace reluctantly turned toward Her Rudeness, allowed into her gaze a bit of the rich, smoky mahogany heat only those who roused her feelings had ever seen, cocked her right eyebrow and purred, “Did I ‘say’ that’s all we did?” Standing, she pulled Herb’s red-and-gray flannel shirt she’d borrowed up onto her shoulders, and dropped the book into her bag. Leaning over to pick it up, she reached down and lightly brushed Herb’s silver hair back out of his face.

“I’m going in now, LeRoy.”

With that, she grabbed her Howya Bean travel mug, and sauntered past the gaping, momentarily-silent younger woman.

Witnesses later affirmed there might’ve been a little extra hip action as the stunning platinum/silver-haired grandma brushed past the snotty, self-important Ashley. As Charlace disappeared around the corner of the pool house, the girl’s tongue came unstuck.

Brow creased and mouth scrunched in disbelief as only The Young And The Brainless seem able to pull off, she stared down at Herb. “But your name’s not LeRoy! It’s—” The normally taciturn gentleman had had enough as well.

“Your great-aunt is an avid NCIS fan, as am I. She wanted to pick a pet name for me, and it turns out to be LeRoy.” He smiled at her consternation of two old, creaky grayhairs acting so—so . . . He picked up the tablet, sliding it into one of his cargo shorts’ big pockets.  Book and coffee mug in hand, he excused himself and brushed past her as well, amused at her stunned and awkward silence.

She couldn’t stand it. “Wait! What—what’s your pet name for her?” He glanced back and grinned as he rounded the corner.

“Peaches.”

© D. Dean Boone, September 2018

Categories: Humor - Lighten Up, Tell-A-Story-Make-A-Point, Wisdom | Leave a comment

A Christmas 2018 2nd Cup: “LOVE’S PURE LIGHT . . . “

“LOVE’S PURE LIGHT. . . “

“. . . and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.” We either read it every year or listen as somebody else does. Old hat. “And they were sore afraid.”
Big deal, right?

You have no idea. That word “GLORY” needs some, ah, radiance reassigned to it. What those scared-stiff shepherds saw and heard and felt that night will never be experienced again until we’re all Home and can experience it for ourselves.

Let me cue it up for you. In Genesis 1:3 when God flipped Creation’s first light switch, what do you think that looked like? Think those huge, LED roadside billboards that make you instinctively slow down… those 6-foot-long bright-white LED light bars on every raised 4WD truck known to man… those piercing xenon headlights that make every oncoming driver squint and swerve. Think stadium lights from every outdoor stadium that ever existed, ALL on AT ONCE.

That’s Heaven’s ‘now’. There’s no squinting where God is, because brilliant light that outshines our sun is their normal atmosphere.

In Exodus 34:29, 34, when Moses came down from hanging with God “his face was RADIANT” and all Israel saw it – to the point they couldn’t look at him to hear his commands without him putting a sack over his head. “Radiant”, not reflected.

In Matthew 17:2, it tells us about that time up on the mountain with Pete, Jim, and Johnny. He says of Jesus that “his face shown like the sun, and his clothes became AS WHITE AS THE LIGHT.” Mark agrees (9:2): “His clothes became DAZZLING WHITE, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them.” Dr. Luke supports it, too: “The appearance of his face CHANGED and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning” (9:29).

Pete’s pretty clear (2 Peter 1:18): “… we were EYEWITNESSES . . . he received honor and GLORY from God. We ourselves heard this Voice . . . ”

Later on, Johnny saw and heard it again (Revelation 1:16-17), when he relates he again experienced “The Son of Man, in a robe and gold breastplate, hair a blizzard of white, eyes pouring fire-blaze, both feet furnace-fired bronze, his voice a cataract . . . his face a perigee sun. I saw this and fainted dead at his feet.”

 

Still with me? We’re talking about what all is wrapped up in that word we’ve so often dismissed–GOD’S GLORY–and why those tough shepherds had their guts frozen at the mere sight of ONE angel showing up in his regular threads.

Couple more, ‘kay? In Revelation 21:23, it says “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the GLORY of God gives it light, and The Lamb is its lamp.”
And 22:5 talks about us: “They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun . . .”

Why all this? First, God impressed it on my heart a couple days ago, and I’ve been doing this and that, like you, too busy to stop and get it written. That’s on me.

Next, I want YOU to be STUNNED INTO AWESTRUCK, UNPARALLELED SHOCK from now on whenever you hear the Christmas story read, and one of the children haltingly reads, ” . . . and THE GLOWY OF THE LOW-ud shown awound them”!!!

FEEL it! SENSE it! Let the thundering resonance of millions of God’s spirit-beings IN FULL RIOTOUS VOICE, appearing in their NORMAL ATMOSPHERE AND HABITAT thrill your insides! HEAR it! SEE it for yourself! Let your MIND, your SPIRIT, your IMAGINATION create an impossibly-immense mosaic of THE ENTIRE SKY completely FILLED by stunning, diamond-brilliant shafts of a light neither YOU NOR I HAVE EVER KNOWN EXISTED!

So, as you sit, sipping your morning coffee, snug in your jammies or robe, maybe listening to some muted Christmas music, tell me again how bored you are at having to listen to “that same old stuff again”.

My prayer for us both, my friend, this Christmas? In a world so jaded and cynical by human life experience, let that single phrase, “and the GLORY of the Lord shown around them” from an old story IGNITE something brand-new in our spirits.

For, you see, the story of THE GLORY‘s not over, and it ain’t a fat lady that’s gotta sing. Sometimes we’re just like the shepherds, so caught up in the regular, same-ol’ same-ol’ that we’re oblivious to God’s true reality He has in store for us.

So, yeah. That grubby stable couldn’t contain what Joseph Mohr wrote as “love’s pure light”. And from now on, every time we sing Silent Night, I hope you bounce a little in your seat, hardly able to contain the excitement and thrill. Let everyone else be appropriately solemn, soft and emotive.

You sit there vibrating, thinking about being one of those angels up in the sky over Bethlehem, punching one of the others in the ribs and saying, “LOOK! THERE HE IS! THAT’S HIM! IS THIS COOL OR WHAT?!?!?”

No. I have no definitive proof angels have ribs. Drink your coffee.

© D. Dean Boone, Christmas Day, 2018

Categories: Encouragement, Humor - Lighten Up, Inspirational, Tell-A-Story-Make-A-Point | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

From 2nd Cup: A MARTHA STEWART CHRISTMAS PLANNING LIST – 12/13/18

A MARTHA STEWART HOLIDAY PLANNING LIST

December 1Blanch carcass from Thanksgiving turkey. Spray paint gold, turn upside down and use as a sleigh to hold Christmas cards.

December 2Have Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir record outgoing Christmas message for voicemail.

December 3Using candlewick and hand-gilded miniature pine cones, fashion cat-o-nine-tails.

December 4Repaint Sistine Chapel ceiling in ecru, with mocha trim.

December 5Get new eyeglasses. Grind lenses yourself.

December 6Email family Christmas newsletter final edit to Pulitzer committee for consideration.

December 7Debug Windows.  Again.

December 10Align carpets to adjust for curvature of Earth.

December 11 – Create original Faberge egg.

December 12Take dog apart. Disinfect. Reassemble.

December 13Collect dentures. They make excellent pastry cutters, particularly for decorative pie crusts.

December 14Install plumbing in gingerbread house.

December 15Replace air in mini-van tires with Glade “Holiday Scents” in case tires are shot out at mall.

December 17Cat-proof the Christmas tree with razor wire garland as way of remembering deployed troops.

December 19Adjust legs of chairs so each Christmas dinner guest will be same height when sitting at his or her assigned seat.

December 20Dip sheep and cattle in egg white, roll in confectioner’s sugar, then in crystal candy to add a festive sparkle to the pasture.

December 21Drain city reservoir; refill with mulled cider, orange slices, whole cloves, and cinnamon sticks.

December 22Float colored, scented votive candles in toilet tank while playing Smooth Jazz Christmas in restrooms.

December 23Seed clouds overhead for white Christmas.

December 24Do annual good deed. Go to several stores, mixing Dillard’s with Walmart. Be seen engaged in last minute Christmas shopping, thus making many people feel less inadequate than they really are.

December 25 – Choose and mercilessly spoil friend’s newborn son. Swaddle. Lay in color-coordinated manger scented with homemade potpourri.

December 26Organize spice racks by genus and phylum.  Color-coordinate where possible.

December 27Build snowmen in likeness of angels.  Fill yard.  Overflow into neighbor’s yards.  Spread the joy.

December 31New Year’s Eve! Give staff their resolutions. Call a friend in each time zone of the world as the clock strikes midnight in that country.  They’ll be up.

~~borrowed from mikeysfunnies.com; adapted.

© D. Dean Boone, December 2018

 

Categories: Humor - Lighten Up | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

2nd Cup of Coffee, 11/30/18: “WHAT? SAY THAT AGAIN?”

KIDS SAY THE FUNNIEST THINGS

 

“Close the curtains,” requested a tot, sitting in a pool of bright light. “The sun’s looking at me too hard.”

Someone asked a youngster when he would turn 6. He replied, “When I’m tired of being 5.”

Seeing her first hailstorm, a 3-year-old exclaimed, “Mommy!  It’s raining dumplings!”

As her gramma frantically waved away a pesky fly with a white dishtowel, the granddaughter observed, “Maybe he thinks you’re surrendering.”

When a child heard that her aunt just had a baby and it looked like her uncle, she said, “You mean he gots a mutstache?”

While shampooing her son, 4, the mom noted his hair was growing so fast he’d soon need it cut. He replied, “Maybe we shouldn’t water it so much.”

When complimented on her vocabulary, the 5-year-old nonchalantly responded, “I have words in my head I haven’t even used yet.”

His mom informed Brian that she was going outside to get a little sun. “But Mommy,” he gulped, “You already have a little son — me!”

When a boy reported two look-alike classmates at school, his parents said they were probably twins. The next day, he came home all bubbly and said, “Guess what? They’re not only twins, they’re brothers!”

These aren’t original with me.  Feel free to share them in good fun.

Dan

 

 

Categories: Humor - Lighten Up | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

2nd Cup of Coffee, 11/22/2018: I’LL HAVE ANOTHER CUP OF JOY

Joy’s a stubborn thing.

It will go on eyeing God and believing for His best even when happiness has long since made tracks.

I meant to write this Thanksgiving 2nd Cup two weeks ago.  I’d been mulling over what to include, what to leave untyped, and what to ignore altogether.  Then a flu virus struck.  I manned up and spent five days trying to ‘doctor’ myself while carrying on with normal household duties, as well as the manly-man upkeeping types of stuff.

It was finally time to see the doctor.  I’ve virtually no autoimmune system left.  That means colds or flu, etc. don’t just strike me.  I get seriously mugged.  Both my ER doc friend I saw Saturday and the sharp intern I followed up with on Monday agreed in what they suggested.  They gave me an antibiotic regimen – in liquid, for me – and suggested OTC Benadryl for what seemed a possible allergic reaction to it.  Again.

Happy?  Not exactly.  Joy-filled?  Yes–by choice!

With Benadryl on board at bedtime, my body was up this morning before I was.  Some of you know what I mean.  It can be comical and magnificently embarrassing at the same time.

From whence, then, derives my joy?

  • I am not merely still here; I’m massively so.  No, I don’t look imposing or snappish.  That’s tough to pull off with Benadryl gazing half-lidded at my entire system, nodding slowly and being like, “Duuuude . . .”  Though I may be functioning in stand-by mode for a few more hours today, I’m joy-full because I’m here.
  • I’m able to breathe.  Born to a 43-year-old mom, I had pulmonary issues, as one of my lungs collapsed at or before birth.  Because of the weakness, I had asthma from birth until I was 10 or 11.  God’s blessed me with strong lungs since that time, yet whenever a virus does get through my defenses, it really grabs on.  Even with all the normal phlegm/sputum junk that goes with kicking a virus, I’ve been able to breathe deep and free for, let’s see– Average adult respirations are at 21,600 per day.  Do the math.  God’s lavished on me multiplied millions of breaths since 1997 I never believed I’d have.
  • I felt well enough to tackle pre-company chores yesterday morning.  And I actually got things upstairs spiffed up so I wouldn’t feel embarrassed having everyone gather in for this afternoon’s wonderful meal.  It’s easy for me to overextend, meaning I expect to get way more done than my chronic fatigue will allow.  It’s frustrating, even discouraging if I allow it.  I work at now allowing it.

And finally?

  • I am most grateful for all those things God could have allowed to occur in or around me that never happened.  I’ll not know anything about any of them unless that’s part of what Heaven’s screening room is about.  Otherwise, I doubt it’ll matter then.  Truth is, everyone has challenges.  You.  Me.  All of us.  We each learn how to cope, how to incorporate all that into our ‘Now’.  I’ve stared right at mine long enough to know how incredibly blessed I am to live, let alone to keep trying to use and perfect what God’s left me.  Knowing the nature of my known challenges, I can only surmise how many are those of which I know – may never know – about.

So, once again, The Boone clan will crowd around a table lovingly prepared and loaded down with far more than we would ever need.  We will take each others’ hands and sing GREAT IS THY FAITHFULNESS by way of blessing the food and our enjoyment of it together.  Next will follow the usual raucous, fun time of table games.  We will thus celebrate together in mutual, joyful praise and gratitude to God for yet another year of living.

May this find you and yours doing the same.  If so, our joy will be even more complete.

© D. Dean Boone, November 22, 2018

Categories: Encouragement, Wisdom | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

A Granger Story – 2nd Cup of Coffee, 11/3/18: THE GRANGER EFFECT ~ Ch. 2

2

I sat sipping some great Ruta Maya medium roast and reflecting on the call I just got from Sparks.  And dabbing.  Somehow, a little of the coffee was spilled on the sleeve of my flannel shirt.  No idea how that might’ve happened.  However, the irregular blob of ochre brown, though complimentary to the barn red, caramel and antique white of the shirt’s plaid, just did not work.  The shirt was offended.

The previous sip gave credence to Jaqueline Susann’s title, so I indulged myself in another.

Reporters in my experience are pretty much one of two kinds.  Either they’re basically lazy and spend most of their time copying others’ work while adding their byline, or they’re part of a vanishing breed:  well-read cynics who’d never intentionally plagiarize on a bet; who do their own digging, and write as much from their own heart and instincts as they do from ‘just the facts, ma’am.’

I’d known Glennis Witherspoon for ten or eleven years.  In my experience, she was one of the latter.

That was what gave me the willies at her request to interview me.  Pondering never got me into any trouble.  I decided to ponder a bit longer.  It didn’t hurt that I had stopped at a new place that just opened, Dough See Dough, on the way in and bought four Boston crèmes.  Pondering always goes better with Boston crèmes and fresh java.

 

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Leaning back, I swallowed another mouthful of coffee, munched an oozy bite of delicious pastry, and eyed the stuffed, mounted Great Horned Owl somebody’d left mounted on my office wall when they moved out.  Whoever had done the taxidermy was a master; I’ve seen these beautiful birds in the trees once or twice, and this specimen’s black/white/gray/brown/tan plumage had been expertly touched up until the bird seemed alive.  I always expected to see the old boy slowly blink and turn his head.

He didn’t.  He just sat perched quietly on the piece of sealed tree branch and stared back at me.  Lotta help you are, bird.  Arlough, whose mind often reminds me of a hummingbird’s sudden flitting, once asked me how I knew it was a male.  I was busy doing something else and just answered the first thing that popped into my mind:  “Because if it was a female, they’d never have caught it with its mouth closed.”  Cracked him up, and after we both stopped snarfling, we agreed it was the best possible answer.  We also agreed we’d keep that answer pretty much between us.

I agreed with myself it was time to get down to some serious sipping and rumination.

I was troubled.  Glennis Witherspoon wasn’t someone I considered a pal, but we’d been at least professionally friendly for most of the time since we first met.  However, we didn’t travel in the same social circles.  Trying to come up with her rationale in seeking me out right now, of all times of the year, had as much chance as my successfully learning trapeze performance online.  Maybe less.

Mine social circle has always been fairly small and tight.  I know and am friends with many, yet am disinclined to spend hours each week attending this or that social function merely to be seen.  Worship and church activities, and the occasional concert or movie, and I’m fine.

But I’m no hermit.  I’ll meet any friend, or anyone referred by a friend, at hat’s drop.  If coffee’s involved, I’ve been known to toss the tam o’ shanter myself.  The point:  Glennis has always known where – or at least how – to find me.

She held a concealed carry license for hi-capacity facts, and always had plenty of reloads.  The woman had long since earned her professional creds in the bleak, rapacious world of modern media reporters.  I knew Glennis could have contacted me at any time.  I knew she’d built her reputation on being forthright and to the point without being brutal.  I knew I needed another Boston crème.

Okay, ‘needed’ might be stretching matters.  I did enjoy it, though.

So why now?  Sitting for another few seconds, I realized I’d been just delaying getting back to her.  If I didn’t, it would only pique her interest.  I’d always been taught piquing is wrong.

“Eagle Online, this is Glennis.”

I told her who I was.  “Can you help me understand why you’d have any interest in interviewing me?  That has to rate right up there with watching a snail clean the inside of an aquarium.”  Lighthearted and carefree.  That’s me.  Just friendly, smiling old Granger.

If she was smiling, it wasn’t in her voice.  In fact, she sounded, well, cautious.  Respectful.  I was not expecting that.

“Frankly, Mr. Granger, I—-”

“Just Granger.”

“— I’ve been hearing different people’s accounts how you’ve helped them.  There’ve been—”

“Excuse me?  From whom?  And how many?”  This is the absolute antithesis of who I am and what I do.  Where’s she getting this?

I made no effort to soften the steel in my voice or words.  She could tell I was riled and quickly backed up.

“As I started to say, there’ve been seven I can recall offhand, and these are all men and women who impress me.  Anyone who could earn their praise would need to themselves be  an amazing person.  Every one of them agree you are that at a bare minimum.  And, look, Mis–Granger, every one of them had to be begged!  None wanted to talk, all were protective of you, and all were VERY reticent to say much of anything.  Please!  If you’re willing, I’d like to spend some time with you and better understand why you’re as effective as you are.”

I was quiet.  I’ve never done anything for anyone with being noticed in mind.  In fact, it bothered me any of the folks I’d encouraged and helped across the years would share their experiences with anyone, let alone a reporter.  To a greater or lesser degree, we’d worked our way through some heavy stuff.  I couldn’t imagine any of them divulging anything to a reporter, of all people, even one with Witherspoon’s rep.  With a few cases, we still were working through some things, off and on, in a few cases.  It wasn’t cheap tabloid material, and it made me uneasy to think any of it might be somehow compromised.

When confronting the unexpected and unknown, I react in silence and withdraw to evaluate.  I pull back, get quiet, and start thinking my way through whatever it is.  To those unused to stillness, it can be alarming, even threatening.

“Granger?”

“You’ve got me at a disadvantage, Glennis.  I’m surprised any of those with whom I’ve interacted would talk openly.  I didn’t reach this place of service in my life by being loose-lipped.  Therefore, I must decide what to do with all this . . . and you.”  The newshound quietly admitted she’d been doggedly persuasive, saying she’d told them all she wanted was to honor me for years of unsung service.  In her favor, she sounded as though she was already regretting being so adamant, and even slightly misleading.

“I never meant any offense, Granger.  I truly am focused on knowing more about the inner you, what makes you so effective.”  To her credit she sounded honestly contrite.  She also sounded like she was being honest about wanting to honor me, not victimize me and jeopardize my longstanding relationships with these friends.

Stale Boston crème is underwhelming compared to a fresh one.  Nevertheless, a stale Boston crème is better than none at all.  Finishing the last bite and washing it down with now-lukewarm coffee, I spent a couple more seconds thinking through all this.  As I thought, I scanned again across some song lyrics I’d been writing and rearranging . . .

Well, you’re not supposed to worry

‘bout being in a hurry

To grow to be a BIG, BOLD SAINT

                            (The Bible says)

To just be good an’ steady

So you’re always good an’ ready

To be everything you AIN’T.

Now, Jesus is Who said it

And I know you’ve probably read it

That we’re all supposed to be GROWIN’

But when somebody dings ya

And their acid gossip wings ya,

Doin’ kind of lags behind the KNOWIN’.

Huh.  It was that gossip deal that got my attention.  I didn’t – don’t – want to be responsible for any of that.

I’d kept Glennis Witherspoon in suspenders long enough.  To her credit, she’d been respectfully quiet, waiting on me.

 

“Come by my office Monday morning at 8.  I’ll clear my schedule until noon.  You can enlighten me further at that time what you have in mind.”

Taken aback, Witherspoon stammered, “Well, I’m—set up in my office with every means to record and videota—”

“You won’t be recording or videotaping anything.”

“—ping . . .  Why not?”

I told her everything – the entire interview – would be off the record.  I mentioned she’d said her purpose was to get to know more about me, and that she needed neither device for that.

“Besides, I want you to see my owl.”

“Your Ow—  WHAT?”

“See you Monday morning at 8, Glennis.  Bring donuts.  I like Boston Crèmes.”

Eagle Online staff later recalled seeing their ace reporter sitting still before her blank computer screen at 5:17 PM.  They all agreed they’d never known either of those things to happen in the entire history of ever.

 

© D. Dean Boone, November 2018

 

 

 

Categories: Common Sense, Encouragement, Humor - Lighten Up | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

A Granger Story – 2nd Cup of Coffee, 10/20/18: THE GRANGER EFFECT

“Hey.”

The young sheriff’s deputy raised his eyes from the emails he’d been impatiently clearing off his phone.  “Hello, Glennis.”  He knew the reporter hadn’t just happened across him.  They rarely did.  He waited.

“I won’t insult you by saying I don’t mean to bother you.”

Sparks eyed her for a few long seconds.  It was what the guys at the station called his “coply stare”, and it was making even the jaded newshound a little uneasy.  Reporters weren’t in the only profession whose daily encounters caused distrust and made questioning motives a way of life.  “Would you care for a cup of coffee?  I need a refill.”  He stood, pulled out a chair from his table, and waited until she sat.  Considering herself at least liberated if not an avowed feminist, she knew Sparks was a true gentleman and would seat her, treating her like a lady whether she acted like one or not.  Fleetingly:  You know, being pampered a little isn’t all that bad…  Thanking him, she took the proffered chair.

“Actually, no.  I’m coffee’d out for awhile.”

Refilling his to-go cup, he walked back across the near-empty serving area of Howya Bean, a great little coffee shop he’d always enjoyed visiting when on break.

“What’s on your mind?”  The hard-edged, interrogative tone was chilly, causing her to look up at him as he pulled out his chair and sat back down.

The reporter hesitated and took a breath, transmitting to a cop’s eye she was edging into sensitive territory.

“You’re friends with Granger, right?”  He let her query lay there limp, like a windsock on a breezy day gone suddenly calm.

“Where is this going?  If you know anything about Granger, you know he’s a very private man, personally and professionally.  He doesn’t talk, and neither does anyone counting him a friend, or wanting to keep him one.”

“Well, I’m sure he—”  Sparks just kept talking, his words popping like the 124-grain Lawman hollowpoints he carried being fired downrange for qualification.

“His ability to actively listen while keeping his mouth shut is one of the things that makes him so unique and effective at what he does.  It’s a habit I’m working to acquire; I’m learning it from him.” The brittle echoes of the deputy’s words slapped against Witherspoon’s hardened resolve, momentarily quieting her.  “No one he’s ever helped would intentionally compromise their relationship with him.  Once more:  where is this going?”

Glennis hesitated.  Everything she’d heard about Granger seemed not only true, but way understated.

“I . . . I’ve heard things about him from snippets of conversations with those just like you’re talking about – people he’s helped.  If he’d be willing, I’d like to interview him and find out his perspectives about what he does and how he does it.”

The wind died down again.  Though there were a few other conversations going on inside Howya Bean’s cheery, eclectic interior, it seemed there was a cylinder of dead air like a levitating moat around the table at which the two of them sat.

It was Sparks’s turn to hesitate.  “There was a time I’d be rather abrupt.  I’m one of the thousands Granger’s helped across his career, and I’m considerate of him and his time.  Maybe even slightly jealous.   But one of the large things I’ve been learning from Granger is to never speak for someone able to speak for themselves.  It’s a fine-edged insult and I don’t have that right.  All I can tell you is this:  it’s an understatement to say I’m protective of my relationship with this man.  He’s easily the most simply complex, unforgettable person God’s ever brought across my path.”  Sparks hesitated again for a few seconds.

“I’ve never met anyone like him.”  He went quiet and sat, eyes unfocused, replaying . . . something from his past he’d shared with Granger.  Then his sharp gaze was just as suddenly back.  “I will tell him of your request.  That’s all I’ll promise.  The rest is up to him.”

The powerfully-built cop stood, scooted his chair back under the colorful table, and nodded almost imperceptibly at Glennis.  She’d never admit it, were anyone to ask; but as he headed for the door, she scanned his broad back and thought, “If I didn’t know he’s an amputee, I’d never be able to tell it.”  Her face slightly pink and warmish, she sat glancing around at any onlookers out of the corners of her eyes as she thought once again, “How I wish Sparks was a few years older.” 

She sat musing over their conversation.  Pursing her lips, she frowned slightly, already forming sentences in her mind as she pulled her pad and pen closer.  She clicked it twice, then stared at it.  Ungh.  No wonder.  It was a red, bling-quality stylus pen with Century21 stamped on it.  Turning the corner of her mouth up in disgust, she twisted the offending utensil until fully open.  What if I didn’t have both hands free?  Oh, and the writing lights up!  How special.  Just a pen, people. A plain-John, no-frills clicker pen that writes. That too much ta ask?”

She reasoned that she’d do better with some fresh coffee.  After all, it WAS a coffee shop.  Seating herself again with a mug of steaming mocha, she began jotting down the basics of her chat with Sparks.  She then began crafting three questions she’d ask Granger which might open him up a little.  She scribbled out, rewrote and edited until each of the sentences played nice.  Well, at least they were cordial.  She sat back, fiddling with the offending pen while she drank her coffee and tried to think of anything she needed to add.

Glennis slanted her eyes to her phone, noticing the time.  Woah.  Time to get back. Gathering her purse and bag, she started to get up–and raked her shin on a table leg.  Uh-hunh!  Thaaat hurt!

Amused at herself and slightly limping, she wryly spoke through gritted teeth in rhythm with pushing the coffee shop’s door open with a slight smacking sound.  “Grits!”  Realizing she’d said it audibly, she slanted her eyes around her again as she shook off her mooning and got back to busin—

Her phone sang to her from her jacket pocket.  “I will always love you . . .”

“Speak of the—”  Hurriedly she silenced it before anybody else could hear the ringtone she’d found for him.  She did have a liberated image to uphold, right?  As she clicked ‘Talk’, she thought, “Wonder why he’s getting back to me so quickly?”

“Thiz Glennis.”

“Sparks.  I spoke with Granger and told him what you want.  He’ll call you.”

“Oh, okay–thanks.”  She realized she was speaking into a dead phone; he’d already clicked off.  “Well, kinda brings a girl back down to Earth, huh?”  Bobbing her head left and raising her right shoulder, Glennis made a rueful face as she fished her car key from her purse and mashed the unlock button.

She needed to get back to her desk.  She’d left her office number for Granger, and she didn’t want to miss his call.

© D. Dean Boone, November 2018

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Common Sense, Encouragement, Tell-A-Story-Make-A-Point, Wisdom | 2 Comments

A Granger 2nd Cup of Coffee, 10/18/18: LOADING . . .

“Oh.  Sorry.  Didn’t mean to barge in.”  Arlough said it in his usual staccato style as he barged in.

I sat quietly in one of my overstuffed, mismatched chairs, the faded brown one.  One never need assume with Arlough; he’s famous for getting to his point.  The challenge lies in keeping up with an agile mind usually operating somewhere around Warp 3.

“You weren’t answering your phone.”  Statements don’t always require a response.  I waited, warming my hands around the big, potbellied coffee mug with “BLESSINGS” stamped on it.

“You haven’t written yet this week.  There’s like six or seven people around the world who depend on your wit and wisdom, y’know.”  I tested my Ruta Maya Organic.  Ah.  Just right.  And at this time of day?  Sugar.  Caramel.  And cream.  Definitely cream.  In the afternoon, a little cream goes a long way.  I figured my friend’s mind had pulled up into a chandelle and was about ready to stall out.  He wasn’t used to flying this slow.

“And?”

“Well, I guess you—I was just—it just seemed weird that—”  Though my mercies, like God’s, aren’t always new every morning, I still try to be His hands and feet – and voice – when it will help.

“You’re wondering why I’m not up and operating at 4 AM, pumping out work on my several writing projects, which includes keeping my blog full of things to think about.  Why, instead of sitting over at my desk, fingers poised over my keyboard, I’m sitting over here with nothing but some great coffee, my writing pad and a pen.”

“Nowthatyoumentionit . . . ”  I know and value every close friend I have.  When Arlough’s normally-rapid speech patterns start gusting thirty or forty knots faster, I know he’s bugged.

     “I’ve been recharging.”

He sat processing what I’d just said.  Electrical engineers understand what a recharge does.  I could see he was troubled at how that fit with me.  “Arlough, I know I don’t have the stamina of a normal man – even one my age.  I don’t like to admit that, but it’s been a reality for me for 18 years.  Dealing with the dozen or so chronic issues that are part of my ‘Now’ is always a challenge, though doing so has become more or less commonplace.

“My biggest detriment is my pride.  I set out each morning the tasks I’d like to get done before day’s end.  I always make a great start, knowing my energy will quickly fade as the day moves on toward noon.  My risk/value assessment is always set too far on the risk side.  I know that.”

He could tell I was baring some facts from my private reserve few others ever knew.  “So what does that mean?”

“It means I can only go so many days trying to look and act normal before my battered body and mind won’t put up with my shenanigans, and quits on me.”  Arlough frowned.  Gesturing toward my coffee carafe, he got up and poured himself a cup to cover his obvious displeasure.

“I thought you knew better than to push yourself.”  The fine edge of equal parts alarm and disgust was strong in this one.

“I do.  And I love you for caring enough to check on me.  Knowing better does not excuse me from always testing my learning edge.  My physical boundaries.  One thing I told God I will not do is use my disability as an excuse to do nothing.  Therefore, I do what I can, learning in the process what things I need to stay away from, for I hate starting a project only to be forced to stop only a few hours later.”

” ‘Kay, so how do you know when you’ve smacked the wall, to use a NASCAR term?”

“General malaise.  Weakness, dehydration effects, such as slurring of words, stumbling, decreased peripheral vision, basically looking and acting drunk.  I suddenly run out of energy, and fast.”

My friend was quiet for a few moments, drinking coffee and thinking.

“You overdo it for everyone else, looking and acting like, uh, like a normal guy in public.  Then you go home or come here and crash for however long it takes.”  I admitted that though it was a bit more complicated than that, he basically had a pretty good grip on my daily life.

Draining his cup, he took it over to the small sink, rinsed it, and set it on the counter to dry.  He then did something I’d never known him to do.  Arlough walked over behind my chair, laid his hands on my shoulders, and prayed over me.  What he said will remain between us.  Yet his words were at once towering and tender, empassioned and empathic.

Finishing, he walked around in front of me.  “No, don’t get up.  You’re doing exactly what you need to be doing – in fact, something I need to seriously consider doing, myself.  I’m gonna barge back out, ‘kay?  But I need your word on something.”  This was an intense side of Arlough I rarely saw.  I raised my eyebrows and waited.

“Don’t ever let ten or twelve days go by without letting all seven of us who read after you know you’re okay, and just regrouping.  You don’t realize how much some people rely on your posts, and we’re still wanting to read the books you’re supposedly working on.  We admire you for being so willing to keep pushing yourself; but to lose you because you’re too danged bullheaded to take care of yourself?  That dog don’t hunt, and I’d hate ta hafta get Sparks and Raven Wing over here to righteously kick your insufferable butt!”

I sat quietly in one of my overstuffed, mismatched chairs, long minutes after the door had snicked shut.  Wiping tears, I drew in a large breath and said, “Granger, my friend?  You’ve been told!”

I agreed with myself, and we both voted another cup of afternoon java was in order.  After all, I knew Arlough loves me.  He knows good and well there are at least eight readers . . .

Now, where’d I stow that half-and-half?

© D. Dean Boone, October 2018

 

 

Categories: Common Sense, Tell-A-Story-Make-A-Point, Wisdom | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

2nd Cup of Coffee, 10/8/18: WHAT IF WE MADE “BEING GRATEFUL” JOB 1?

Happy people focus on what they have, and unhappy people focus on what’s missing.  Attitude makes the difference.

I was sipping some great Costa Rica dark roast while culling countless memes for the few worth keeping.  Writers collect such.  I’ve been known to save a picture from someone’s email or a meme, and have it mysteriously morph into an entire story line . . . I digress.

As I scrolled, this popped up.

On a sticky note, someone had written, “What if you woke up this morning having only those things you told God ‘Thank you’ for yesterday?”

That brought me up short and I began to think.

Seriously.  I sat back, took another sip or two of java, and began to retrace my gratitude of yesterday.

Yesterday, October 7, 2018, I thanked God for

  • the gift of a fresh, new 24 hours of living.
  • my breakfast, the privilege to be able to eat it, and the ongoing miracle of my tiny remaining piece of small gut to absorb enough nutrients to keep me functioning without any medical assistance – defying all prognoses of medical professionals saying it’s impossible for me to live.
  • the blessing of my career shift into pastoral ministry, which led to residency and irreplaceable years of service as a hospital chaplain, giving me both experience and tools with which to serve others now in specialized ways.
  • knowing how to treat the repetitive bouts with the physical challenges of my ‘Now’ without hospitalization.
  • the gift of an unforgettable wife, an understanding family, and a few close friends who know enough of my journey since Spring of 1997 that I need not explain when I’m feeling rough and need rest.
  • the blessing of being gifted to do what I’m doing right now:  to write encouragement and champion personal and spiritual excellence to into your lives.
  • You.  If there were no readers, there’d be no blog, no forthcoming books.  Since a day rarely passes without me doing some sort of writing, it’s also a rare day I don’t think about and pray about you.
  • the further anticipated blessings of a good income from my writing, which will help me be independent regardless of what lies ahead of me.
  • the toughness and gritty reality of my life experience thus far; it’s steeled me to face things God’s led me through I’d likely never have otherwise survived.

 

There were other gratitudinous items tossed in.  I’m always appreciative – often vocally so – of each morning’s first several cups of wonderful black, steaming, fragrant coffee.  Every time I hear a siren or series of sirens, I thank God for those trained to give that aid, praying over them and those they’re rushing to help.

There are more, but you get the point.  I tend to live a life of gratitude.

I’ve met nobody who likes life’s hard places; I watched my parents weather their share, and wasn’t looking forward to any such encounters.  Yet tough situations create strong people.

I grew up strong, muscular and willing to work hard.  Prior to my physical Waterloo, I was a solid six feet tall, weighing in at 250.  Now?  five feet, ten inches (if I stretch), and I eat almost constantly to maintain a svelte, skinny-butted 170.

In spite of all that, I’m a strong people.  Stronger and tougher than ever.  I wouldn’t have been as strong, had God not customized and personalized some things laid out before me I wasn’t sure at the time I’d survive.  Whether matters of heart, mind, or body, they weren’t intended to be subtle.

They hurt.

Because they hurt, I’m a bigger, tougher, stronger man, husband, and dad – and a more useful friend.

Therefore, I’m most thankful for that last item.  It is making me more of the man God’s had in mind to make of me.

 

© D. Dean Boone, October 2018

Categories: Encouragement, Inspirational, Wisdom | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment